Tag Archives: kew

A successful day at The National Archives

8 Aug
The National Archives, Kew

The National Archives, Kew

All in all I think was one of the best days I have ever had at The National Archives, it sure seems like it was a long day, but it was no longer than a normal day at work. I am sure I will sleep well tonight though.

The journey was pretty good, no delays on the trains. It was engineering work on the London Underground which made me change my mind and go to The National Archives today instead of the London Family History Centre.

I have already written about the successful morning I had, but the afternoon didn’t go quite so well. Despite my best efforts I could not find out any more about Wybrants KINGHORN.

I think the problem is that I don’t really know where to start looking. I thought this might be a problem, I don’t really know enough about the subject of criminal trials yet to get anywhere. I should have taken my time and read up a bit more before jumping in head first. Still at least I know where not to look now!

So I switched my attention to the HEMSLEY family and Gun Inn at Blackboys, Sussex. I have written about this place before, but haven’t really done much research into the place. One of the things I wanted to check whilst at Kew was the Valuation Office Field Books for Gun Inn.

These hold the details of a survey carried out as a result of The Finance (1909-1910) Act and provide some information on the property itself and it’s value. It doesn’t normal have much family information, really only the name of the owners and occupiers, however the entry for Gun Inn had the useful little note that it was sold at auction in July 1914 to T. HEMSLEY for £700. This coincides with the death of Henry HEMSLEY (my 3x great grandfather) and gives me some great clues as to where to look for more information (a local newspaper for details of the sale including the auctioneer, and then for records from that auctioneer if any survive), if I am lucky there may even be a sale catalogue in an archive somewhere.

After this I decided to take advantage of the free access to the 1911 census and look up Henry HEMSLEY. I hadn’t used the 1911 census at Kew before, but it was straightforward enough once I had found the link on their web page. At Kew you can search and view the pages free of charge and it only costs 20p to print an A3 page (I would rather have had a digital copy but I don’t think this is possible).

As I was getting ready to leave I was stopped by a member of staff, who asked if I was Mr Gasson. I thought I must have done something wrong or left something behind somewhere, but no, this was another Gasson, a distant cousin, who had seen my name on some of my document orders. We chatted briefly but I had to go and catch my train, but you can be sure we will be swapping notes before too long and establishing exactly what the family connection is.

Changes at The National Archives

6 Jul

I have been looking at the recent news out of the National Archives in the UK, and it has made quite sobering reading. This is not the news that they have discovered another copy of the Declaration of Independence in their collections (I know what it’s like, things get buried and forgotten about, however my stuff is not worth $8.14 million), but the news about proposed changes to public services at Kew.

Unfortunately I will not be able to hear about these changes first hand at one of public meetings, but there is a report from Else Churchill of the Society of Genealogists on their website.

I have mixed feelings about these proposed changes, like the majority of users most of my interaction with the National Archives is via their website (it is probably about a year since I actually visited in person) and it is good to see the proposed changes are taking this change in priority into account.

Any loss of access to records would be regrettable, but I think we sometimes forget that the money to run this type of facility has to come from somewhere, and many would argue that there are better things to spend the money on than what is for most of us a hobby.

Any changes that involve a loss of employees are not to be taken lightly, especially when that loss possibly includes the loss of knowledge and expertise, and it is good to see that consultation and careful thought are going into this process.

I understand the need for these changes, and would rather see these changes implemented now, rather than run the risk of harsher cutbacks further down the road, or losing such a valuable resource altogether in the future.

It does raise worrying questions regarding the funding and viability of smaller archives throughout the country. If the National Archives is facing financial cutbacks then how long will it be before we start seeing similar or more drastic cutbacks at some of the smaller archives?

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